« VorigeDoorgaan »
Or can the sight that is most sharp and keen Endure their captain's flaming head to see ? How much less those much higher in degree, And so much fairer, and much more than these, As these are fairer than the land and seas ? For far above these heavens which here we see Be others far exceeding these in light, Not bounded, not corrupt, as these same be, But infinite in largeness and in height, Unmoving, uncorrupt, and spotless bright, That need no sun to illuminate their spheres, But their own native light, far passing theirs. And, as these heavens still by degrees arise, Until they come to their First Mover's bound, That in his mighty compass doth comprise And carry all the rest with him around, So those likewise do by degrees redound And rise more fair, till they at last arrive To the most fair, whereto they all do strive. Fair is the heaven where happy souls have place, In full enjoyment of felicity, Whence they do still behold the glorious face Of the divine eternal majesty : More fair is that where those idees on high Enranged be which Plato so admired, And pure intelligences from God inspired. Yet fairer is that heaven in which do reign The sovereign powers and mighty potentates Which in their high protections do contain All mortal princes and imperial states; And fairer yet, whereas * the royal seats And heavenly dominations are set, From whom all earthly governance is fet. Yet far more fair be those bright cherubims, Which all with golden wings are overdight,
And those eternal burning seraphims,
Which from their faces dart out fiery light:
Yet fairer than they both, and much more bright,
Be th' angels and archangels, which attend
On God's own person without rest or end.
These thus in fair each other far excelling,
As to the highest they approach more near,
Yet is that brightness, far beyond all telling,
Fairer than all the rest which there appear,
Though all their beauties joined together were ;
How then can mortal tongue hope to express
The image of such endless perfectness?
Cease then, my tongue ! and lend unto my
Leave to bethink how great that beauty is
Whose utmost parts so beautiful I find;
How much more these essential parts of his,
His truth, his love, his wisdom, and his bliss,
His grace, his doom, his mercy, and his might,
By which he lends us of himself a sight!
Those unto all he daily does display,
And shew himself in the image of his grace,
As in a looking-glass, through which he may
Be seen of all his creatures vile and base,
That are unable else to see his face,
His glorious face, which glistereth else so bright
That th' angels selves cannot endure his sight.
But we, frail wights! whose sight cannot sustain
The sun's bright beams when he on us doth shine,
But that their points rebutted back again
Are dulled, how can we see with feeble eyne
The glory of that majesty divine
In sight of whom both sun and moon are dark,
Compared to his least resplendent spark ?
The means, therefore, which unto us is lent
Him to behold is on his works to look,
Which he hath made in beauty excellent,
And in the same, as in a brazen book,
To read enregistered in every nook
His goodness, which his beauty doth declare ;
For all that's good is beautiful and fair.
Thence gathering plumes of perfect speculation,
To imp the wings of thy high-flying mind,
Mount up aloft through heavenly contemplation
From this dark world, whose damps the soul do blind,
And, like the native brood of eagles' kind,
On that bright Sun of Glory fix thine eyes,
Cleared from gross mists of frail infirmities.
Humbled with fear and awful reverence,
Before the footstool of his majesty
Throw thyself down with trembling innocence.
Ne dare look up with corruptible eye
On the drad * face of that great Deity,
For fear lest, if he chance to look on thee,
Thou turn to nought and quite confounded be.
But lowly fall before his mercy-seat,
Close-covered with the Lamb's integrity
From the just wrath of this avengeful threat
That sits upon the righteous throne on high :
His throne is built upon eternity,
More firm and durable than steel or brass,
Or the hard diamond, which them both doth
That with his beams enlumineth the dark
And dampish air, whereby all things are read,
Whose nature yet so much is marvelled
Of mortal wits that it doth much amaze
The greatest wizards which thereon do gaze.
But that immortal light which there doth shine
thousand times more bright, more clear,
More excellent, more glorious, more divine,
Through which to God all mortal actions here,
And even the thoughts of men, do plain appear;.
For from the Eternal Truth it doth proceed,
Through heavenly virtue which her beams do breed.
With the great glory of that wondrous light
His throne is all encompassed around,
And hid in his own brightness from the sight
Of all that look thereon with eyes
And underneath his feet are to be found
Thunder, and lightning, and tempestuous fire,
The instruments of his avenging ire.
There in his bosom Sapience doth sit,
The sovereign dearling of the Deity,
Clad like a queen in royal robes, most fit
For so great power and peerless majesty,
And all with gems and jewels gorgeously
Adorned, that brighter than the stars appear,
And make her native brightness seem more clear.
And on her head a crown of purest gold
Is set, in sign of highest sovereignty ;
And in her hand a sceptre she doth hold
With which she rules the house of God on high,
And menageth the ever-moving sky,
And in the same these lower creatures all
Subjected to her power imperial.
Both heaven and earth obey unto her will,
And all the creatures which they both contain
For of her fulness, which the world doth fill,
They all partake, and do in state remain
As their great Maker did at first ordain,
Through observation of her high beheast,
By which they first were made and still increased.
The fairness of her face no tongue can tell,
For she the daughters of all women's race,
And angels eke, in beauty doth excel,
Sparkled on her from God's own glorious face,
And more increased by her own goodly grace,
That it doth far exceed all human thought,
Ne can on earth compared be to aught:
Ne could that painter, had he lived yet,
Which pictured Venus with so curious quill,
That all posterity admired it,
Have pourtrayed this, for all his maistering skill;
Ne she herself, had she remained still,
And were as fair as fabling wits do feign,
Could once come near this beauty sovereign.
But had those wits, the wonders of their days,
Or that sweet Teian poet which did spend
His plenteous vein in setting forth her praise,
Seen but a glimpse of this which I pretend *,
How wondrously would he her face commend,
Above that idol of his feigning thought,
That all the world should with his rhymes be fraught!
How then dare I, the novice of his art,
Presume to picture so divine a wight,
Or hope t'express her least perfection's part,
Whose beauty fills the heavens with her light,
And darks the earth with shadow of her sight?
Ah, gentle muse! thou art too weak and faint
The portrait of so heavenly hue to paint.
Let angels, which her goodly face behold
And see at will, her sovereign praises sing,